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"Matriarchs held the memory of the family, years and years in that small but heavily convoluted brain.  The bulls were just all flesh and bluster; it was the succession of mothers and daughters who led the herd.  The oldest cows knew time's history.  They remembered Africa, the breadth of it, and were the sources of imparted knowledge.  Once the guns erased them, the ones who remained could know only less, always less" (123-124).

After our class discussion about the importance of mothers, this quote seemed to fall heavily upon the page.  I guess it makes me like the kids in Dr. Jerz class who seemed to feel more sympathy for the chained dog than for the dead children.  The only thing I can picture is the unwritten scene where Stumpp raises his gun, knowing full well exactly what he is doing to the family of elephants before he kills the mother-his cruelty compares to Corvus' awful neighbor who killed her dog.  Elephants are extremely intelligent animals, capable of mourning just like humans.  Williams found the perfect metaphor.  Africa's desert can easily be compared to Arizona's landscape, the family of elephants is much like every family in the book who is coping with death and/or isolation in one way or the other.  When the mother is gone, the young ones are left wondering the desert alone.   


Josie Rush said:

This section also jumped out at me. I thought it was parlelling the motherless quality of the three girls. We were wondering why that was important and when Williams would address it. I believe in this section she did. These girls have lost their "sources of imparted knowledge" and have been left to make their own way.

Aja Hannah said:

I didn't even realize this comparison (from the savanna to the desert) and now that I think about it I really agree with you. Elephants are not as intelligent as humans, they don't have opposable thumbs, but we can relate to them. They mourn, they remember, they pass information through the generations, they join together to help a fallen member of the group, they show affection or anger, and they are artisic.

Elephants can be taught to paint better than I can paint. They also understand a bit about agriculture. In (I think it was) Kenya, when they elephants were nearly killed off another type of plant took over the savanna. When the population started to increase again, they started to uproot all of these plants. The countrymen were really agitated with this until they realized that in place of those uprooted plants, the elephants' favorite food was growing instead.

Aja Hannah said:

Oh I tagged you in my blog

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Aja Hannah on Matriarch: Oh I tagged you in my blog
Aja Hannah on Matriarch: I didn't even realize this com
Josie Rush on Matriarch: This section also jumped out a